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Iuro Robot Finds Its Way Through Cities, With Your Help

One of the most, uh, striking robots at the IROS expo this year was Iuro, with its giant and highly expressive blue and white plastic head. Iuro can approach humans and ask them for directions to help it navigate around cities while acting in a “socially acceptable manner,” but at IROS, the robot was randomly (and hilariously) shifting back and forth between expressions of happiness, disgust, and astonishment, as you’ll see in our video interview after the jump.

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Video Friday: Jubilee

IROS is 25 years old this year, which I guess means that it's earned a little bit of a vacation by holding itself as this resort in Portugal. As part of the celebrations, roboticists were invited to submit Silver Jubliee videos "illustrating the history and/or milestones in intelligent robotics and/or intelligent systems in the last 25 years." If you couldn't be here at the conference with us, we're bringing you the six finalists for today's Video Friday.

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Robot Builds Ramp by Randomly Flinging 3,600 Toothpicks

One way of making a simple robot more capable is to give it the capacity to modify its environment. We've seen this in practice in the last year or two with robots that have the capacity to create tools, build buildings, and even manufacture other robots. This concept can be taken even farther, though, with robots that can construct large structures out of amorphous materials like glue, foam, and toothpicks.

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Robotic Airplane, Boat, and Submarine Team Up to Monitor Coral Reefs

Designing a robot that can do everything is hard. Robots work best when they’re given one specific task to perform and have been constructed with that task in mind, so if you’re trying to, say, monitor coral reefs from the air, the surface of the ocean, and under water all at once, you can either drive yourself nuts trying to come up with some sort of autonomous submersible seaplane, or you can just teach a robotic airplane, robotic boat, and robotic submarine to all work together.

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Inflatable Limb Robot Runs Around on Wiggly Legs

Some of the most interesting forms of locomotion in the animal kingdom come from creatures without bones. We're talking cephalopods, like octopi, who can use their tentacles to both "walk" like we do and move in a bunch of other ways, often while carrying objects. This has inspired researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology and Kings College London to design a new sort of quadruped robot that walks around on air-powered soft tentacles instead of legs.

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Harvard RoboBees Learn to Steer, Mostly

Harvard has been working on a robotic bee for five years now. Five years is a long time in the fast-paced world of robotics, but when you're trying to design a controllable flying robot that weighs less than one tenth of one gram from scratch, getting it to work properly is a process that often has to wait for technology to catch up to the concept. 

The RoboBee has been able to take off under its own power for years, but roboticists have only just figured out how to get it to both take off and go where they want it to. Or at least, they're getting very, very close, and the latest testing was presented at one of the opening sessions of IROS this morning.

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We're at IROS 2012!

Don't mind the fact that there's a fabulous resort and beach in the background of this picture: we're all business here at the 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, or IROS.

Last year, IROS was in San Francisco, and this year, we're in Vilamoura, on the southern coast of Portugal, which may or may not be one of the most popular resort regions in all of Europe. There are 11 presentation tracks all going on simultaneously, with new talks taking place every 15 minutes for the next three days, and we're going to be at every single one of them. Impossible, you say? Probably. But we're going to do it anyway, or (more likely) kill ourselves trying.

Check back all this week for exclusives from IROS, and we'll be bringing you awesome news from the forefront of robotics research for the next several weeks at least: there's a lot to see, and we're going to make sure you don't miss a thing.

[ IROS 2012 ]

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

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